(Excerpts from the poem read by Amanda Gorman at the inauguration of President Joseph R. Biden, Jr., January 20, 2021)
We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation
rather than share it,
Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy
And this effort very nearly succeeded
But while democracy can be periodically delayed
it can never be permanently defeated
In this truth
in this faith we trust
For while we have our eyes on the future
history has its eyes on us
This is the era of just redemption
We feared at its inception
We did not feel prepared to be the heirs
of such a terrifying hour
but within it we found the power
to author a new chapter
To offer hope and laughter to ourselves
So while once we asked,
how could we possibly prevail over catastrophe?
Now we assert:
How could catastrophe possibly prevail over us?
We will not march back to what was
but move to what shall be.
A country that is bruised but whole,
benevolent but bold,
fierce and free.
We will not be turned around
or interrupted by intimidation
because we know our inaction and inertia
will be the inheritance of the next generation.
Our blunders become their burdens/
But one thing is certain:
If we merge mercy with might,
and might with right,
then love becomes our legacy
and changes our children’s birthright.
So let us leave behind a country
better than the one we were left
With every breath from my bronze-pounded chest,
I will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one!
Amanda Gorman, age 22, is the country’s first National Youth Poet Laureate. Her first two books come out in September — the picture story “Change Things” and a bound edition of her inaugural poem, along with other works. To watch and read Gorman’s entire Inauguration Day poem, visit https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2021-01-20/watch-and-read-amanda-gormans-inauguration-day-poem